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The Most Maxed-Out Places in America

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Credit cards can be powerful financial tools, but they can quickly become double-edged swords. And many consumers are familiar with that pain: In fact, 23.7% of credit cardholders in the 100 largest U.S. metros have at least one maxed-out card, according to the latest LendingTree study.

Here’s what else we found.

  • Across the 100 largest U.S. metros, 23.7% of credit cardholders have at least one maxed-out card. That’s a 4.4% increase from 22.7% in August 2022. Meanwhile, 9.1% of cardholders across those 100 metros had multiple maxed-out cards in the third quarter of 2023 — a 46.8% spike from 6.2% in August 2022.
  • The most maxed-out metro is Bridgeport, Conn. 30.8% of cardholders in the Connecticut metro have at least one maxed-out credit card — down from 33.1% in August 2022 but enough to rise to No. 1 in this year’s study. Three metros — New York, San Antonio and Memphis, Tenn. — tie for second at 30.5%.
  • Memphis has the highest percentage of residents with multiple maxed-out cards, at 14.0%.Two Texas metros — El Paso and San Antonio — follow, at 13.6% and 12.8%, respectively.
  • Minneapolis residents are the least likely to max out their cards.15.0% of Minneapolis residents have at least one maxed-out card and 5.1% have more than one — the lowest in both categories. Provo, Utah, is the next lowest in both categories (16.5% and 5.6%, respectively), while Madison, Wis., is just ahead, with 16.8% of residents having at least one maxed-out card.
  • Raleigh, N.C., saw the largest increase in the rate of cardholders with at least one maxed-out card. The rate of cardholders with maxed-out cards in Raleigh spiked 39.4%, from 19.4% in August 2022 to 27.0% in the third quarter of 2023. Another North Carolina metro — Durham — had the second-highest increase at 31.2%, followed by Augusta, Ga., at 30.9%.

Consumers are increasingly tapped out. In fact, 23.7% of credit cardholders across the 100 largest U.S. metros have at least one maxed-out card — meaning their balance is greater than or equal to their credit limit. When we last conducted this study in August 2022, that figure was 22.7%, meaning the percentage of consumers with at least one maxed-out card has risen by 4.4%.

According to LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz, that figure is rising because life is becoming more expensive.

“Stubborn inflation, record debt and sky-high interest rates make a terrible trifecta for folks with credit card debt, but that’s where many Americans find themselves,” he says. “And as lending standards tighten, banks may be a little stingier with their credit limits, making it easier to max out a card because the limits are low.”

Across cardholders in those same 100 metros, 9.1% had multiple maxed-out cards in the third quarter of 2023. That’s a 46.8% spike from 6.2% in August 2022.

“In tough times, millions of Americans look at credit cards as a de facto emergency fund,” Schulz says. “However, if their cards are maxed out, that’s not really an option. That could lead to struggling Americans having to look instead to pricier options, such as payday lending.”

Breaking down these figures by metro, Bridgeport, Conn., has the highest percentage of consumers with at least one maxed-out card. Here, 30.8% of cardholders have at least one maxed-out credit card. While that figure has fallen from 33.1% in August 2022 (when Bridgeport ranked No. 3), it’s enough to rise to the top this year.

Metros with the highest % of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card

RankMetro% of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card
1Bridgeport, CT30.8%
2New York, NY30.5%
2San Antonio, TX30.5%
2Memphis, TN30.5%

Source: LendingTree analysis of about 203,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, in the 100 most populous U.S. metros.

Following that, New York, San Antonio and Memphis, Tenn., tie for second at 30.5%. Compared to the 2022 study, all three saw ranking improvements: New York from No. 8, San Antonio from No. 21 and Memphis from No. 6.

In August 2022, New Orleans ranked highest at 35.9%. In the third quarter of 2023, however, New Orleans fell to No. 17 at 27.5% — a 23.3% decrease. Meanwhile, Baton Rouge, La., sat at No. 2 in 2022 at 34.0% but fell to No. 23 this year at 26.7% — a 21.4% decrease. (More on percentage changes by metro later.)

What about those with multiple maxed-out cards? Memphis ranks highest here, with 14.0% of residents having two or more maxed-out cards. It’s followed by El Paso, Texas (13.6%), and San Antonio (12.8%).

How does that compare to the last study? Baton Rouge ranked highest in 2022, with 13.6% of residents having multiple maxed-out cards. It was followed by New Orleans (12.3%) and Knoxville, Tenn. (10.5%). As far as this year’s top-ranking metros, Memphis was No. 7 in 2022 at 9.1%, El Paso tied at No. 5 at 10.1% and San Antonio tied at No. 24 at 6.9%.

Full rankings

Metros with the highest/lowest % of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card

RankMetro% of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card
1Bridgeport, CT30.8%
2New York, NY30.5%
2San Antonio, TX30.5%
2Memphis, TN30.5%
5Miami, FL30.4%
6El Paso, TX30.3%
7Augusta, GA29.2%
8McAllen, TX29.0%
9Fresno, CA28.8%
10Atlanta, GA28.6%
10Virginia Beach, VA28.6%
10Jackson, MS28.6%
13Charleston, SC28.5%
14Greensboro, NC28.2%
15Dallas, TX28.1%
16Austin, TX27.6%
17New Orleans, LA27.5%
18Columbia, SC27.4%
19Raleigh, NC27.0%
19Bakersfield, CA27.0%
21Winston-Salem, NC26.9%
22Durham, NC26.8%
23Las Vegas, NV26.7%
23Baton Rouge, LA26.7%
25Poughkeepsie, NY26.5%
26Houston, TX26.2%
27Los Angeles, CA26.1%
27Washington, DC26.1%
27Jacksonville, FL26.1%
30Baltimore, MD26.0%
30Birmingham, AL26.0%
30Tulsa, OK26.0%
33Orlando, FL25.9%
33Lakeland, FL25.9%
35New Haven, CT25.6%
36Little Rock, AR25.5%
37Greenville, SC25.4%
38San Diego, CA24.8%
39Philadelphia, PA24.7%
40Cape Coral, FL24.6%
41Colorado Springs, CO24.5%
41Wichita, KS24.5%
43Tampa, FL24.3%
44Boston, MA24.0%
44Richmond, VA24.0%
44Deltona, FL24.0%
47Albuquerque, NM23.9%
48Tucson, AZ23.8%
48Honolulu, HI23.8%
50Knoxville, TN23.6%
51Providence, RI23.5%
52Riverside, CA23.4%
52Allentown, PA23.4%
54Oklahoma City, OK23.2%
54Louisville, KY23.2%
56Chicago, IL23.1%
56Nashville, TN23.1%
56San Jose, CA23.1%
59San Francisco, CA22.7%
59Worcester, MA22.7%
61Phoenix, AZ22.5%
61Cincinnati, OH22.5%
61Salt Lake City, UT22.5%
64Detroit, MI22.4%
65Denver, CO22.2%
66Portland, OR22.0%
67Dayton, OH21.8%
67Springfield, MA21.8%
69Cleveland, OH21.7%
70Charlotte, NC21.5%
71St. Louis, MO21.3%
71Sacramento, CA21.3%
71Harrisburg, PA21.3%
74North Port, FL21.1%
75Indianapolis, IN20.9%
75Stockton, CA20.9%
77Toledo, OH20.8%
78Scranton, PA20.7%
79Columbus, OH20.6%
80Seattle, WA20.5%
80Hartford, CT20.5%
80Palm Bay, FL20.5%
83Ogden, UT20.4%
84Oxnard, CA20.3%
85Syracuse, NY20.2%
86Albany, NY20.0%
87Kansas City, MO19.9%
88Akron, OH19.8%
89Spokane, WA19.5%
90Omaha, NE19.1%
91Boise, ID18.9%
92Grand Rapids, MI18.7%
93Rochester, NY18.5%
94Pittsburgh, PA17.7%
94Buffalo, NY17.7%
96Milwaukee, WI17.2%
97Des Moines, IA16.9%
98Madison, WI16.8%
99Provo, UT16.5%
100Minneapolis, MN15.0%

Source: LendingTree analysis of about 203,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, in the 100 most populous U.S. metros.

Metros with the highest/lowest % of cardholders with multiple maxed-out credit cards

RankMetro% of cardholders with multiple maxed-out credit cards
1Memphis, TN14.0%
2El Paso, TX13.6%
3San Antonio, TX12.8%
4Charleston, SC12.3%
5McAllen, TX12.0%
5Augusta, GA12.0%
7Atlanta, GA11.9%
8Virginia Beach, VA11.8%
9Jackson, MS11.7%
10Dallas, TX11.6%
10Birmingham, AL11.6%
10Greensboro, NC11.6%
13Austin, TX11.4%
13Raleigh, NC11.4%
13Bridgeport, CT11.4%
16Columbia, SC11.3%
17New Orleans, LA11.2%
17Winston-Salem, NC11.2%
19Baton Rouge, LA10.9%
20Harrisburg, PA10.8%
21Tucson, AZ10.6%
21Fresno, CA10.6%
23Las Vegas, NV10.5%
24Lakeland, FL10.4%
25Miami, FL10.2%
26Orlando, FL10.1%
27Baltimore, MD10.0%
27Durham, NC10.0%
29New York, NY9.9%
29Tulsa, OK9.9%
31Houston, TX9.8%
32Cincinnati, OH9.7%
32Knoxville, TN9.7%
34Jacksonville, FL9.6%
34Richmond, VA9.6%
36Denver, CO9.5%
36Wichita, KS9.5%
38New Haven, CT9.4%
39Oklahoma City, OK9.3%
39Little Rock, AR9.3%
39Poughkeepsie, NY9.3%
42Riverside, CA9.1%
43Los Angeles, CA9.0%
43Tampa, FL9.0%
43Dayton, OH9.0%
46Chicago, IL8.9%
46Philadelphia, PA8.9%
46Washington, DC8.9%
49St. Louis, MO8.8%
49Cleveland, OH8.8%
49Greenville, SC8.8%
49Allentown, PA8.8%
49Cape Coral, FL8.8%
49Deltona, FL8.8%
55Ogden, UT8.7%
56Phoenix, AZ8.5%
56Worcester, MA8.5%
56Toledo, OH8.5%
59Louisville, KY8.4%
59Grand Rapids, MI8.4%
59Albuquerque, NM8.4%
59Akron, OH8.4%
63Nashville, TN8.3%
64Indianapolis, IN8.2%
64Milwaukee, WI8.2%
64Scranton, PA8.2%
67Columbus, OH8.1%
67Springfield, MA8.1%
67Syracuse, NY8.1%
67Palm Bay, FL8.1%
71Detroit, MI8.0%
71Sacramento, CA8.0%
73Bakersfield, CA7.9%
73Albany, NY7.9%
73Colorado Springs, CO7.9%
76San Diego, CA7.8%
77Boston, MA7.7%
77Oxnard, CA7.7%
79Seattle, WA7.6%
79Kansas City, MO7.6%
81Providence, RI7.5%
81Rochester, NY7.5%
81Omaha, NE7.5%
81Des Moines, IA7.5%
85Salt Lake City, UT7.4%
86Portland, OR7.3%
86Hartford, CT7.3%
86Honolulu, HI7.3%
89Charlotte, NC7.2%
89San Jose, CA7.2%
91San Francisco, CA7.0%
91North Port, FL7.0%
93Buffalo, NY6.9%
93Stockton, CA6.9%
93Madison, WI6.9%
93Spokane, WA6.9%
97Pittsburgh, PA6.7%
98Boise, ID5.6%
98Provo, UT5.6%
100Minneapolis, MN5.1%

Source: LendingTree analysis of about 203,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, in the 100 most populous U.S. metros.

On the other end of the list, Minneapolis residents are the least likely to max out their cards. Among Minneapolis cardholders, 15.0% have at least one maxed-out card. Meanwhile, 5.1% have more than one maxed-out card — the lowest in both categories.

In both categories, the Minnesota metro is followed by Provo, Utah, with 16.5% of residents having at least one maxed-out card and 5.6% having multiple (tying with Boise, Idaho, here). Madison, Wis., rounds out the bottom three among metros with at least one maxed-out card at 16.8%.

Metros with the lowest % of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card

RankMetro% of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card
1Minneapolis, MN15.0%
2Provo, UT16.5%
3Madison, WI16.8%

Source: LendingTree analysis of about 203,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, in the 100 most populous U.S. metros.

Notably, residents in all three metros were among those least likely to open a new credit card in the first half of 2023. According to another LendingTree study on opening a new card, Minneapolis residents were the second-least likely to do so, while Provo residents were the sixth-least likely and Madison residents were the fifth-least likely.

Schulz says consumers in these metros are more likely to have better financial opportunities.

“If you show you can successfully manage credit, it opens a lot of doors,” he says. “For example, you’re more likely to be approved for your next loan and get good terms, and you also have a cushion of available credit to use in case of emergency or even if you have a project that you’re excited about, such as a home remodel or a small business startup.”

Which metros have seen the most significant changes since 2022? Raleigh, N.C., ranked first with the biggest increase. Between August 2022 and the third quarter of 2023, the percentage of consumers with maxed-out cards rose 39.4% from 19.4% to 27.0%.

Durham, N.C. (31.2%) had the second-highest increase, rising from 20.4% to 26.8%. Augusta, Ga. (30.9%), rounded out the top three, rising from 22.3% to 29.2%.

Metros with the biggest increases in the % of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card

RankMetro% of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card, August 2022% of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card, Q3 2023% change
1Raleigh, NC19.4%27.0%39.4%
2Durham, NC20.4%26.8%31.2%
3Augusta, GA22.3%29.2%30.9%

Source: LendingTree analysis of about 203,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, and about 300,000 anonymized credit reports in August 2022, both in the 100 most populous U.S. metros. Note: While we rounded for display, calculations were made with unrounded figures.

On the other hand, Nashville, Tenn., saw the largest decline: While 30.7% of credit cardholders had at least one maxed-out card in August 2022, that figure fell 24.8% to 23.1% in the third quarter of 2023. It’s followed by Knoxville, Tenn. (23.7%), where that rate fell from 30.9% in 2022 to 23.6% in 2023. Finally, New Orleans (23.3%) ranked third, with the rate of cardholders with maxed-out credit cards falling from 35.9% to 27.5%.

Full rankings

Metros with the biggest increases/decreases in the % of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card

RankMetro% of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card, August 2022% of cardholders with at least 1 maxed-out credit card, Q3 2023% change
1Raleigh, NC19.4%27.0%39.4%
2Durham, NC20.4%26.8%31.2%
3Augusta, GA22.3%29.2%30.9%
4Atlanta, GA22.1%28.6%29.4%
5Salt Lake City, UT17.4%22.5%29.0%
6Albuquerque, NM19.1%23.9%25.2%
7San Jose, CA18.6%23.1%24.5%
8Ogden, UT16.5%20.4%23.9%
9Dallas, TX22.7%28.1%23.6%
10Austin, TX22.4%27.6%23.3%
11Baltimore, MD21.2%26.0%22.6%
12Winston-Salem, NC22.0%26.9%22.4%
13McAllen, TX23.8%29.0%22.0%
14San Antonio, TX25.0%30.5%21.9%
15Portland, OR18.1%22.0%21.8%
16Columbia, SC22.6%27.4%21.3%
17Poughkeepsie, NY22.5%26.5%17.7%
18Greenville, SC21.7%25.4%17.1%
19Tucson, AZ20.5%23.8%16.0%
20Springfield, MA18.9%21.8%15.5%
21Colorado Springs, CO21.3%24.5%14.9%
22Greensboro, NC24.6%28.2%14.7%
23Providence, RI20.5%23.5%14.5%
24Wichita, KS21.5%24.5%13.8%
25Deltona, FL21.4%24.0%12.4%
26Charleston, SC25.5%28.5%11.8%
27Orlando, FL23.2%25.9%11.6%
27Syracuse, NY18.1%20.2%11.6%
29Jacksonville, FL23.4%26.1%11.5%
30Boise, ID17.0%18.9%11.2%
31Miami, FL27.4%30.4%10.8%
31Kansas City, MO18.0%19.9%10.8%
33Denver, CO20.1%22.2%10.6%
34Cincinnati, OH20.4%22.5%10.4%
35Virginia Beach, VA26.1%28.6%9.8%
36El Paso, TX27.7%30.3%9.5%
37Worcester, MA20.8%22.7%9.4%
37Albany, NY18.3%20.0%9.4%
39Washington, DC23.9%26.1%9.3%
40San Diego, CA22.7%24.8%9.1%
40St. Louis, MO19.5%21.3%9.1%
40Seattle, WA18.8%20.5%9.1%
43Jackson, MS26.3%28.6%9.0%
44Las Vegas, NV24.6%26.7%8.6%
45Lakeland, FL23.9%25.9%8.4%
45Spokane, WA18.0%19.5%8.4%
47Rochester, NY17.1%18.5%8.3%
48Cape Coral, FL22.8%24.6%8.1%
49Chicago, IL21.4%23.1%8.0%
50Fresno, CA26.7%28.8%7.7%
51Bakersfield, CA25.1%27.0%7.6%
52New York, NY28.4%30.5%7.5%
53Palm Bay, FL19.1%20.5%7.3%
54San Francisco, CA21.2%22.7%7.1%
55Boston, MA22.4%24.0%7.0%
56Tulsa, OK24.9%26.0%4.5%
57Sacramento, CA20.5%21.3%4.2%
58Columbus, OH19.8%20.6%4.1%
59Tampa, FL23.4%24.3%3.9%
59Detroit, MI21.6%22.4%3.9%
61Houston, TX25.4%26.2%3.2%
62Los Angeles, CA25.3%26.1%3.1%
63Richmond, VA23.4%24.0%2.5%
64Oxnard, CA19.9%20.3%2.2%
65Dayton, OH21.5%21.8%1.3%
66Allentown, PA23.2%23.4%0.9%
67Philadelphia, PA24.5%24.7%0.8%
68Riverside, CA23.4%23.4%0.1%
69Grand Rapids, MI18.7%18.7%-0.1%
70Oklahoma City, OK23.3%23.2%-0.3%
70Toledo, OH20.9%20.8%-0.3%
72Memphis, TN30.6%30.5%-0.4%
73New Haven, CT25.7%25.6%-0.5%
74Phoenix, AZ22.7%22.5%-0.7%
75Madison, WI16.9%16.8%-0.8%
76Honolulu, HI24.2%23.8%-1.8%
77Charlotte, NC22.1%21.5%-2.7%
78Birmingham, AL26.8%26.0%-3.0%
78Harrisburg, PA22.0%21.3%-3.0%
80Cleveland, OH22.5%21.7%-3.6%
81Provo, UT17.2%16.5%-4.1%
82North Port, FL22.1%21.1%-4.7%
83Buffalo, NY18.7%17.7%-5.2%
84Louisville, KY24.7%23.2%-6.0%
85Bridgeport, CT33.1%30.8%-7.0%
85Indianapolis, IN22.5%20.9%-7.0%
87Hartford, CT22.3%20.5%-8.2%
88Akron, OH22.1%19.8%-10.5%
89Stockton, CA23.8%20.9%-12.1%
90Minneapolis, MN17.4%15.0%-13.9%
91Little Rock, AR30.1%25.5%-15.2%
92Omaha, NE22.5%19.1%-15.3%
93Pittsburgh, PA21.8%17.7%-18.8%
94Scranton, PA25.6%20.7%-19.1%
95Baton Rouge, LA34.0%26.7%-21.4%
96Milwaukee, WI21.9%17.2%-21.5%
97Des Moines, IA21.6%16.9%-21.7%
98New Orleans, LA35.9%27.5%-23.3%
99Knoxville, TN30.9%23.6%-23.7%
100Nashville, TN30.7%23.1%-24.8%

Source: LendingTree analysis of about 203,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, and about 300,000 anonymized credit reports in August 2022, both in the 100 most populous U.S. metros. Note: While we rounded for display, calculations were made with unrounded figures.

Maxing out a credit card often means a major hit to your credit score. However, that damage isn’t irreparable. To help boost your credit after maxing out a card, Schulz offers the following advice:

  • Lower your interest rate. “Interest is a killer for those with credit card debt, but there are things you can do to get it under control,” he says. “A 0% balance transfer credit card may be the best weapon for battling credit card debt. A low-interest personal loan can be great, too, though you won’t get the 0% deal you can get with balance transfer cards. Also, consider asking your card issuer for a lower interest rate. It sounds unlikely, but your chances of success are way better than you think.”
  • Revisit your budget. “You can’t make a meaningful plan to attack credit card debt if you don’t know how much money is coming in and going out of your household each month,” he says. “Once you know that, you can start to shuffle money around based on your priorities, allowing yourself to put more cash toward paying down your debt.”
  • Automate as much as possible. If you’re already maxing out your credit cards, the last thing you need to do is miss a payment. Protect your credit score by signing up to automatically pay your bills each month.
  • Save while paying down debt. “This is how you break that cycle of debt,” Schulz says. “Yes, it may take you longer and cost you more to pay down your debt this way, but it’s OK. That savings will mean that once your credit card balance is down to $0, the next unexpected expense won’t have to go back onto your credit card. That’s a really big deal.”

 

LendingTree researchers analyzed about 203,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, in the 100 most populous U.S. metros to determine the rate of credit cardholders with current balances equal to or exceeding their credit limits on one or more cards.

We also compared these findings to prior research that analyzed about 300,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree users in August 2022.

Researchers used the U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with five-year estimates to identify the 100 largest metros.

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